Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Best lunch in the Oliver area

Today I needed a quick lunch. Something to give me a break from the office and  that was not mainstream.  The Elm Café was perfect.  A salmon sandwich that was delicious and fresh you could say it hit the spot. And I must not forget to mention the latte... wow. You better get in there and try one. Great espresso and sweet milk = one perfect latte to warm me right down to my toes.
The rest of the menu looked quite interesting too. Fresh salads and there was a hearty pulled pork sandwich that sounded good too, hopefully it will be on the menu next time. And they are open for breakfast too with 2 delicious breakfast sandwiches. 

All in all a great little gem in the neighbourhood. Thanks for the great lunch Elm Café

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Regional Canadian Food: Edmonton

Here is the second installment to the Canadian Food Experience Project, this month's topic is Regional Food. This project is all about bringing Canadian food bloggers together to share their unique food experiences.
I must admit that this topic was a tough one, I began to think of my family and our local traditions; what is special about them and what food do we typically enjoy at these times. This year at Easter, we had brunch with my family, there is something about spring and brunch that go together just perfectly. For this brunch, I made a Brunch Bake that was filled with the fresh and bright flavours of spring. Originally, I found this recipe on the Kraft Foods website, there they call it the Sky-High Brunch Bake and of course I did a bit of recipe remodelling with the addition of fresh asparagus and dill and I used farm fresh eggs. The recipe and photos may look a little daunting as the assembly is a bit specific, but trust me when I say it is well worth all the effort and attention to details! As I am writing this I am thinking of when I will be able to make this again. It is a very memorable dish, one that the crowds will always be asking for time and time again.

Here is my version of the Brunch Bake. (serves 4-6)

  • 1 pkg. frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
  • 6 local farm fresh eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese (if you can do homemade ricotta, all the better!)
  • dash hot pepper sauce
  • 2 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
  • fresh dill, chopped
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or any local sharp cheese)
  • 1 cup chopped red peppers
  • 20 lightly blanched asparagus, trimmed to radius of spring-form pan

    • Unfold pastry sheets. Roll out 1 sheet to 11-inch square; set aside. Roll out remaining sheet to 12-inch square; use to line bottom and side of 9-inch spring-form pan sprayed with cooking spray.
    • Reserve 1 Tbsp. eggs. Mix remaining eggs with ricotta, pepper sauce and spinach. Layer half each of the bacon, cheese, ricotta mixture and peppers in crust. Repeat layers, ending with the asparagus arranged in a star-burst on top.
    • Cover with remaining pastry sheet; folding remaining pastry around edges of pan. Brush pastry with reserved egg. Cut slits in top crust.
    • Bake 45 to 55 min. or until golden brown. Cool 10 min. Run small knife around edge of pan to loosen crust before removing rim.

    Easter 2013: Brunch Bake

    Friday, June 7, 2013

    My First Authentic Canadian Food Memory

    The Canadian Food Experience Project begins today, June 7 2013! As we (participants) share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice. Please join us.

    I am so excited to take part in this 13 month challenge, this is a wonderful opportunity to share my own Canadian Food Experiences.  I would like to take this moment to thank Valerie at A Canadian Foodie for putting the word out to so many Canadian food blog writers to come together to share their stories and experiences. This is going to be a great 13 months.

    I hope you enjoy my experiences that I am about to share with you, read on for my First Authentic Canadian Food Memory!

    Let me start by setting the scene… a log cabin, built by hand and heart, in the woods with an old wood burning cook stove. Some would call this very rustic or rough but to us it is warm, welcoming and so very familiar. The cabin is a place where we go to relax, unwind and recharge. There are plenty of quiet and peaceful moments as well as many memories made with family and friends as we gather together regardless of the season. And with any home, the kitchen is a meeting place for all and the cabin is no exception to this. I believe that it must be the warmth of the cook stove that draws everyone in or possibly it is the delicious meals that are created here, one or the other it really equals the same; a great place to be.

    When I was growing up, we always, and I do mean always, had homemade bread. It even got to the point of store bought bread was almost a treat… I know it is hard to believe.  I realize now, after a few years of not having a constant supply of fresh homemade bread, what everyone loved so much about this fresh bread, what they tasted and how it made them feel.  It is so hard to describe but the best word that comes to mind is; Love.  This bread has always been made by my Mom and yes, I have the recipe but it doesn’t turn out quite the same. When Mom makes it she puts Love into it, I am sure it is the next ingredient that she adds, right after fresh ground wheat, patience and understanding.

    There have been so many weekends that Mom has made fresh bread in the morning that is just coming out of the oven at lunchtime. There is something different about the heat from a wood burning oven and the effect it has on our baking, especially breads, the crust is crunchy but still tender and the inside of the loaf is so soft with an amazing crumb texture. If you ever have the chance to enjoy fresh, warm bread from a wood burning cook stove, I suggest that you stop to enjoy and take the time to find the fresh ground wheat, patience, understanding and love that has been baked into this loaf of bread.

    You may ask; what makes this my First Authentic Canadian Food Memory? I could simply say that it's the Alberta grown wheat but that is really too simple. Instead I believe that it is the fact that I am a true Canadian and I am proud to say it. Nestled deep in the woods in northwestern Alberta in the Woodlands County, the cabin has been our rustic weekend home for so many years and it will continue to be this as our families change and grow. It is a place where many memories have been created and so many wonderful meals have been lovingly prepared and enjoyed in the good company for family and friends. 

    This recipe starts out with local wheat that is freshly ground and finishes as a beautiful loaf that gives us so much more than nourishment in our bellies. It fills out hearts with love and our minds with memories that stay with us forever.

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    Coming Soon

    New and exciting things are happening around here... stay tuned for details of an upcoming challenge.

    Sunday, April 29, 2012

    The Best Cinnamon Bread

    I love magazines.  Fashion, Fitness and Food magazines are my favourite.  A really great cooking magazine is Cook's Illustrated.  It is filled with very technical recipes with tons of great information on the how and why, which fills my curiosity and answers all my how and why questions!

    In the April issue I found a few recipes to try and so far I have made two of them and they turned out perfect.  My favourite one was the Cinnamon Swirl Bread, it made a light bread with lots of cinnamon flavour and no gaps in between the layers of bread.  I started making it at 4pm on a Wednesday night and I was able to sit down with a slice and a cup of tea at 10pm.  I know you are probably thinking who wants to spend that many hours baking bread?!?  Well, let me tell you... it is well worth it!

    ... I just went and had a slice for inspiration...
    It tastes so amazing, you can't even buy cinnamon bread that is this good.
    The end result was a rustic looking braided loaf, (actually it made 2 loaves but one was a taste test subject and therefore did not make the photo shoot) that was filled with cinnamon sugar and lots of raisins.  

    For those of you out there who wrinkle your noses at raisins, you really must re-think your relationship with raisins for this cinnamon loaf.  They really do make the bread extra special.  And you know who you are... B.

    I would have taken the time to write out all the steps to make this amazing bread but I really have to give the recipe writing credit to Cook's Illustrated and let them share the recipe with you.  Head over to their website and you can get all the info and so much more there!  

    If you love cinnamon as much as I do, you will enjoy every last crumb of this Cinnamon Swirl bread.
    That's all for now, see you around in the kitchen.


    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    Natural Energy bars

    I am hungry right before my workout, but I don't know what to eat.

    My day is so busy, I am rushing from work to the gym and then off to pick up the kids.  What should I eat while dashing between all of this?

    Does any of this sound familiar?

    There seems to be so many different energy bars, bites, cookies, you name it on the market these days.  And if you read the list of ingredients there are many items that either you can hardly pronounce or they are not really 'food'.  I like to enjoy real food; food that is simple, with names that I can pronounce and food that is created in my kitchen.  Another bonus to making your own energy bars at home is the cost!  Would you rather spend $3 on one energy bar with ingredients that are chemically enhanced or spend $15 and with a great afternoon in the kitchen and get 25 energy bars?!?  Yes, my thoughts exactly.

    There are a few different recipes out there for energy bars, each one with its own claim to fame and benefits.  I like to keep it simple, healthy and delicious.  A small energy bite that is low fat, low in processed sugar and high in protein.

    Here is my version of an energy bar, bite, cookie or whatever you want to call it.
    I like to call them Ella bars and to be seasonally festive I have cut them into heart shapes.  Cute, I know.

    Fruit & Nut Ella bars

    1 c. chopped, toasted pecans
    12 oz (about 2 c.) dates
    6 oz (about 1 c.) dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, apricots)
    2 T chia seeds
    1/3 c. peanut butter (melted)

    Using your trusty food processor chop the dates and dried fruits together.  Then add in the toasted pecans and process until the nuts are evenly minced.

    Heat peanut butter over medium heat until it is soft and runny.  Add chia seeds to nut and dried fruit mixture and pour in melted peanut butter.  Gently mix all together and press evenly into a pan lined with plastic wrap.

    Chill until firm and cut into bars (or shapes).  If you use a cookie cutter to make your shapes, you can roll the leftovers into balls!  Store in a covered container for 1 week, or keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  You can also wrap each bar individually and freeze for up to 3 months.

    Here are a few benefits to these wonderful Fruit & Nut Ella bars;
    - great source of protein in the peanut butter & pecans
    - healthy antioxidants found in the dried cranberries
    - at least 30% of your daily iron requirements in the dried apricots and cherries
    - chia seeds are a superfood filled with omega-3s and calcium

    Now that I have the perfect snack, it is time to plan a new workout.  Who would have thought that food could inspire a new and exciting workout...?  Around here anything is possible.

    That's all for now, see you around in the kitchen.